Workers will now be able to join a union when a clear majority of employees indicate their wish to do so through a single-step process, in line with other jurisdictions such as Quebec, New Brunswick and in the federal sector.
All workers have the right to access collective bargaining, a fundamental freedom of association guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. To make it easier for employees to join a union and to reduce the opportunities for interference with certification, government is amending the Labour Relations Code to replace the former two-step process to certify union representation in a workplace with a simpler single-step system.
The former two-step process requires a minimum of 45% of workers in a workplace to sign membership cards. Once that threshold is reached, workers must then restate their preference for unionization through an additional vote – even if a clear majority of workers have already chosen to join the union. It’s at this stage, between the certification application and the vote, is where the interference by employers can often occur.
Under the new amendments:
• If 55% or more of the employees in a proposed bargaining unit sign a union membership card, a union will be certified – no further vote is required.
• However, if between 45% and 55% of employees sign union membership cards, a second step consisting of a secret ballot vote is still required for certification.
The amendments will also affect construction sector unions by allowing workers annual opportunities to switch unions if they are unhappy with their current representation.